If Isent item on consignment to a company and they say they haven’t sold the item but won’t send it back, do I have any recourse?

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If Isent item on consignment to a company and they say they haven’t sold the item but won’t send it back, do I have any recourse?

The company (out-of-state) I sent the item to keeps telling me they have a potential buyer, then nothing. Lately, they say they have a buyer who is paying on layaway. Supposedly have received a couple of payments, and then they (again) stopped answering my emails. I have repeatedly asked them to send the item back, but a new “buyer” pops up. I’m not sure if they still have the item and just don’t want to send me the money or what. They say they are having financial difficulties (like I should feel bad for them).

Asked on August 2, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a copy of the contract you made with the consignment store?  Does it have a date listed on in as a deadline for sale?  Generally, the owner of the consignment store does not have legal ownership to the items in the shop.  They are "consignee" and you are the "consignor" and you retain ownership until the item is sold.  If it is not sold by the date specified then it must be returned or another contract negotiated. If they are refusing to return it then they could be guilty of "conversion" of the property depending on your state laws.  Yes, you indeed have recourse but you may have to sue them in court.  The problem here is that they are in another state.  I would first send them a letter by certified mail and refer to the terms of the contract as to the due date for sale, etc., and indicate that you will seek legal help in the improper conversion of the item if it is not returned.  If they do not respond then try contacting the state attorney general's office (yours and theirs) and seek legal help.  Good luck.


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